A vain rescue bid

The most charming thing about the March 7 election is that everything about it has become unpredictable. Chairman-in-waiting George Papandreou has broken fresh ground, addressing minority groups – cultural, religious, social – as if he were contending for the US Democratic presidential nomination. Dressed in Manhattan-style casuals, Papandreou is visiting Roma settlements, Muslim minority villages and young drug addicts, handing out promises of «participatory democracy.» Unable to articulate a genuine political discourse, Papandreou seeks to abolish it, focusing on the details of civic life as if Greece were a patchwork of minorities and not a nationally homogeneous state, and thus deluding himself that he thereby stands beyond good and evil. This, along with other absurd rhetorical flourishes, are what constitute Papandreou’s ostensible vision. A stranger to domestic developments, he waited till he became chairman to start paying heed to people’s problems, as if he had not been minister and parliamentary deputy for more than two decades. The most bizarre thing about Papandreou’s campaign is his attempt to transform PASOK into a party with hazy boundaries. The only time he tried to escape navel-gazing was when he decided to fire the MPs who signed the controversial tourist development bill, deeming that this would soften the disastrous impression of entangled interests. But his hopes were dashed and the so-called democratic faction has been sucked down into the quicksand of the land scheme controversy, which is nothing but favoritism for businessmen. In democracies, elections are a chance to defuse accumulated disappointment and ward off revolution. What is at stake in this vote is the purging of the system of a corrupt group of politicians and businessmen, which Papandreou is in vain trying to rescue.